Director: Stephen Gaghan
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard
Running Time: 121 minutes
Release Date: February 3rd
It would be entirely fair and justifiable to make the calculated assumption that a movie aptly titled Gold would leave you with, if nothing else, a greater appreciation for the shiny rock. It would also be entirely fair and justifiable to anticipate a tale that deals heavily with the vague principle of the ‘American Dream’, that grounded both the benefits and follies that can be found once obtained. Gold achieves neither of these goals. After two hours of fumbling in an Indonesian jungle and a half-baked love plot, you’re left feeling, simply put, bored.
Gold is an action adventure film (but quite light on the aforementioned) directed by Stephen Gaghan that stars Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramírez as two unlikely partners who partake in their own unique version of the ‘American Dream’ as they search for a mine in an Indonesian jungle. It chronicles the true story of Kenny Wells, a prospector who stumbles upon the biggest gold find in recent history and must navigate through the turmoils brought about from his new found wealth and create an empire he can be proud of.
All this sounds nice on paper but the end result leaves the viewer wanting. The whole thing plays out like an extended presentation on why wealth is both something one should crave and simultaneously be weary of. The main issue is, however, that you find yourself asking why you should care, with not a single thematic message making any real impact. And while Gaghan’s direction has hints of brilliance and an almost Vince Gilligan-esque flare of auteurism, much like the treasure Wells is searching for, this same nugget of exceptionalism is neatly tucked in between the very unexceptional and as a result is shockingly easy to miss.
Overall the film suffers from uncertainty, occasionally dipping its toe into hyperrealistic storytelling. Some scenes play out in an organic matter before shifting to poorly orchestrated dream sequences and massive disorientating leaps in the narrative, never finding a balance between the two. It may nice be to look at, but when a third of your film takes place in a lush foreign land then praising the visuals is a given. It’s a film about ‘gold’ for pete’s sake, and you see little to no gold; you barely even see the colour gold.
With this newly formed understanding of the film, you would at the very least expect McConaughey to provide a stellar performance. With this in mind, you are likely to not be completely disappointed. Once you peel back the receding hairline, fake beer belly and McConaughey doing what can only be assumed to be his best ‘McConaughey’ impersonation, there is something to be loved found; something honest and ethereal, the personification of fleeting hope and frivolous ambition that leaves you not as Kenny Wells’s biggest fan but rather a silent admirer. Unfortunately, it’s really the only performance worth discussing. Ramirez is bland and frustratingly stone-faced while Bryce Dallas Howard brings absolutely nothing of substance to her role.
Perhaps what’s most agitating about Gold is the fact that it was surprisingly not absolutely terrible, it possessed fading glimmers of infinite potential and you kept waiting and hoping in vain that they would be stumbled upon. You were promised a gold mine, however, what we received instead was a shiny polished rock.